Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Thursday reportedly sacked two ministers in her cabinet; though the state government maintained that Family Welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha and Health Minister Anant Kumar Misra had resigned from their posts voluntarily.
Kushwaha and Misra tendered their resignations after taking responsibility for the multi-crore scams unearthed in their respective departments during the investigations in the murder of Lucknow Chief Medical Officer Dr B P Singh last week.
Singh was gunned down on April 2, soon after he stepped out of his house for a morning walk in Lucknow's posh Gomati Nagar locality.
While Kushwaha was considered to be close to the chief minister, Misra is the first cousin of senior Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Chandra Misra. Several members of Misra's family hold top positions in state administration.
Meanwhile, a senior state official on Thursday admitted that large-scale pilferage from National Rural Health Mission funds may have been the reason behind Singh's murder.
"Serious and large-scale financial irregularities in family welfare and health departments appear to have some connection with the murder of Dr B P Singh," Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh told a press conference on Thursday evening.
"The matter is under investigation, but prima facie, the involvement of some insiders has already been established. A few people have been arrested, while others have been stripped of their charges," he said.
Singh added, "Principal Secretary (family welfare) Pradeep Shukla has been removed from the family welfare department, while two deputy chief medical officers and two clerks have been arrested in connection with the bungling that is believed to have eventually led to the murder of the CMO."
Claiming that financial irregularities had been taking place rampantly in these departments since years, Singh declared, "The present chief minister is not the type to turn a blind eye to all that, hence the action."
He pointed out that two top officials of the same department had been murdered when the state was ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"If suitable action had been ordered by the government then and the guilty had been brought to book, such irregularities could have been nipped in the bud," he said.
Referring to the murder of CMO Dr Vinod Arya under similar circumstances six months ago, the cabinet secretary claimed, "We were prompt in arresting the guilty who are now behind bars."
He expressed confidence that the culprits behind Dr Singh's murder will be arrested soon.
"As far as the ministers are concerned, they considered it their moral responsibility to step down," Singh claimed.